The Former Footballers Initiative (FFI), an umbrella that brings to gether former football players, has organised a mega football gala this Saturday, December 2, at Old Kampala SS grounds caters for only retired players who featured in the national football team (The Cranes), while FFI is open to all players who happen to hold a football licence across the renowned Fufa football tiers.
The Works and Transport minister, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, is the patron of FFI, while Pastor Paul Musisi Lubowa is the chairman, with Ntensibe serving as vice chairman. The treasurer is former Bell FC player Dr Isaac Ngobya, assisted by Edward Nsubuga, the former Nsambya FC defender.
Committee members include Edward Baguma, Jimmy Sekandi, Godfrey Nyola, Vincent Semanobe and Vincent Luganda. The gala is free to all spectators. FFI also intends to use the gala to commemorate the country’s legends and fundraise for the cooperative.
In 1975, the former Uganda Cranes players headed by David Otti launched the Ex-International Football Association (EXIFA), but the body was undermined by leadership wrangles that almost brought down the union. It was in 1986 that ex-internationals, led by the late Jimmy
Bakyayita Semugabi, revived the EXIFA. However, the association failed to serve its purpose.
It would only come up for recognition during Fufa elections, in which it was allocated the two slots in the Fufa general assembly. And in 2012 when Fifa removed EXIFA’s two slots meant in the general assembly, the body went into oblivion until 2020, when it was revived under the chairmanship of Jackson Mayanja.
WHAT FFI OUGHT TO DO
FFI should not repeat the mistakes committed by EXIFA, which failed to navigate their core objective of lifting the plight of former players. All players should have one voice if they are to be supported by the members of the public.
FFI should also use the good offices of Gen Katumba Wamala and Dr Ngobya for corporate sponsorship. What’s more, FFI can stage testimonial matches as it is done world over, on top of making appeals to corporate bodies and companies and arranging football galas like what SC Villa did for the retiring Paul Hasule in November, 1993 at Mbale municipal stadium.
Proceeds from such events would go to the coffers of the FFI, and their books of accounts should be audited to exercise transparency. I know there might be some sharks in FFI, but with unity, the players can overcome any adversities.
Lastly, I wish to see Fufa and government lending a hand to FFI’s plight. After all, these are players who put their bodies on the line for the sake of the nation.